Report: Britain plans probe of 'Bloody Sunday'
January 28, 1998
Londonderry, Northern Ireland, January 30, 1972
Web posted at: 11:41 p.m. EDT (2341 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) -- Britain is ready to launch an international inquiry into the 1972 "Bloody Sunday" killings in Northern Ireland, a news agency has reported.
The Press Association news agency said Wednesday the probe will be headed by three judges, one each from Scotland, the United States and a Commonwealth country.
Fourteen people were killed on "Bloody Sunday," January 30, 1972, when British troops opened fire after a civil rights march in the city of Londonderry in Northern Ireland.
The killings fueled Irish nationalist hatred of Britain in Northern Ireland and produced an upsurge in new recruits for the Irish Republican Army.
The news agency reported that relatives of the dead were said to have been told of the inquiry, and that British Prime Minister Tony Blair is planning to make a statement about it to parliament Thursday.
"The government's position is that when we have something to say, we will let people know," a spokesman in Blair's office said when asked to comment on the report.
Dublin had been pushing for an inquiry as the 26th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" approaches, hoping an investigation would bolster peace talks that have been shaken by 10 sectarian killings since Christmas.
Moderate Irish nationalist leader John Hume, who is one of the architects of the peace process, told Reuters that there will be a statement in parliament Thursday but he was unaware of its contents.
"I was informed today that there would be a statement in the House of Commons tomorrow," Hume said.
"Bloody Sunday" is one of the most emotive dates in the guerrilla war that has killed 3,200 people since 1969. For Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing, an investigation would be a sign of a new approach on Britain's part.
"An announcement would have a big psychological impact. 'Bloody Sunday' was the point where democracy went out of the window and we've had political war ever since," said Cathal Crumley, a Sinn Fein councilor in Londonderry.
Reuters contributed to this report.